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Thursday, November 3, 2016

Artist Interview: Matt Colligan

MW: Matt Colligan, thank you for being here.

MC: Thank you for having me! I'm happy to be here.

MW: So, I’d like to talk about “The Turnaround” – as a concept, it seems to align with much of America’s desire for change both socially and politically – was that an aspect that inspired the song or is it a coincidence?

MC: It's a coincidence. This was written about a friend who accomplished something that, although I had great confidence in him, the endeavor seemed improbable to him. With that said, I appreciate your observation because I like to write concepts that are general enough to be interpreted in a variety of ways, thus increasing the likelihood that more listeners can connect with the concept on a personal level.


MW: Not all musicians are super comfortable in front of the camera but you seem to have a knack for being center in the music-video. Did you ever do any acting or other prep-work for performing on screen?

MC: Thank you for the kind words! I've done some TV interviews, performances, and an episode of a show on Fuse TV but, aside from that, have not done any acting. I don't have any training, but certainly have a great time with it.

MW: Did country music have an influence on you? If so, could you name a few artists specifically?

MC: To be candid, not really. However, certain artists like Lyle Lovett and Loudon Wainwright have influenced my writing. Both of these artists can also fall into a number of other genres (e.g., folk).



MW: What about other genres you enjoy?

MC: I really love alternative, rock, pop, and folk. I'll be moved by anything of lyrical and melodic substance.

MW: Are you currently touring or doing any other fan outreach? If so, where are you performing?

MC: I'm not touring at the moment, but am playing an intimate show at Rockwood Music Hall in New York on December 4th!

MW: Do you have anything for the future that we should be looking out for?

MC: Yes! I will be releasing another single called, "Burn" in January. In 2017, I'll be releasing a bunch of singles.

MW: Thanks so much for participating!

MC: Thanks again for having me, I really enjoyed it. 

Soft Ledges



Soft Ledges is a duo out with their self-titled album which drops on Nov 18th and if you haven’t heard it yet, you’re honestly missing out. The band consists of the lovely Shelley Miller on vox, guitar, drums, and piano; and Chris Geisler on bass and drums. Together, like a dark and despondent megalith they deliver a heartfelt and deeply passionate studio performance. There are ten songs total on the album and I wanted to highlight several of them.

The album begins with the subtle, jazzy, and smooth “La Nina” – there’s a rock edge to this number that is very satisfying to me - although it is slow, almost insinuating an exhaustion save for the magnificently energetic vocals.

Song number three is “Orion,” starting with piano and high pitched droning. The band gets a huge plus from me for the number of ballads present on this album. Naming all their strengths would take a long time but my biggest compliment for them has to be a sense of melody that is both brilliant in its architecture and daring in the willingness to go places unexpected.

Track number four “Deer Fly Blues” continues with the dark ambiance overlayed with Miller’s voice. The sheer variety of moods present in the delivery is astounding as she is able to instantaneously shift from playful to angry, disgust to acquiescence, and flirtatiousness to disinterest. The band is right behind her as a cacophony of sound props up the vocals as they surge and dissipate; it’s the kind of teamwork that typically only comes after long, long periods of playing together and Soft Ledges seems to have it in spades.

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“Long Way to the Ground” is track number six. This one is guitar driven with playful riffs playing a rhythmic accompaniment. The lyrics echo the title of the song in a way that is very poignant. The guitar all of a sudden becomes sad in the context of the lyrics. In a big way, it seems as though the accompaniment is the optimistic part of the ego that says “everything is going to be OK.” Unsurprisingly, the lyrics actually seem to take this direction until the line “you’re never gonna get back up till you come down.”

Soft Ledges seem to be happy to pay tribute to older styles of music – this isn’t to say they are copycats or simply reinventing tracks from 20, 30, or 40 years ago as there is always a profoundly individualistic spin put on the songs. This is evident in the penultimate number titled “Don’t Wait,” it’s a moody and bluesy aural experience that would be very at home on an Aretha Franklin album; however, there is a darkness present which is unmistakably modern.

There is precious little information about these three musicians available on their website. I’m hoping that will change as more folks take notice of them. It would be interesting to read the context of their musical musings. In the meantime, there are a few samples of their release which can be played directly from their homepage. When the album drops, I’ll be more than happy to spend the required dollars to own it. 

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Artist Interview: NatStar

Hello readers! For this week’s interview, we have hip-hop artist and mobile entrepreneur NatStar. He’s released an Android/iOS app as a means to access his album/videos. The audio version of his newest album, “ANATYMOUS” is out on November 15th.


MW: NatStar, thank you so much for being here.

NS: I appreciate you for having me.

MW: So, the biggest thing I think we’re all curious about is why release an app? Why not just go the traditional route of dropping the album with all the fanfare that way?

NS: I’ve in the past used an app as a means to promoting myself as an artist. I used a company named blackvibes.com. I remember at the time it allowed me to upload my music and videos to the app so I thought, why not release an album as a mobile app? It allows me to include so much more than just music. It’ll include music videos, live videos, a documentary, album credits, song lyrics, links to merch, itunes download and contact abilities. Also within the app is a blog that allows me to send out direct notifications to those who downloaded the app. In short, its very personal and convenient! go to your app store on your phone to DL or officialnatstar.com/anatymous to DL.

MW: I enjoyed listening to your song “Dagga” on your website. There is a quirky quality to the beat, it almost has a vintage sound to it, except for the drums which are really modern. Is that representative of your other music?

NS: For the most part yea it is. However, I mostly adjust to the times but always try to keep an element of musicianship in my music which explains the drum sound selections lol..

MW: Where does the title “ANATYMOUS” come from?

NS: Anatymous is a play off of the word anonymous basically inserting my name Nat lol. It’s the feeling of being unknown and the drive to fix it.

MW: I take it you produce all your beats; several of the readers of this blog are also interested in production. Would you mind walking us through your creative process?

NS: Of course. It’s different at times depending on what i’m feeling. A lot of times I hear a melody in my head and will create a tempo behind it. I’ll lay a basic drum pattern to at least get the melody down then go back and create mainly around the main melody.


MW: Any favorite pieces of kit you could mention?

NS: I have random kits and so many of them it’s hard to pinpoint specifics lol.


MW: Are you hitting the road to promote your new app/album or do you have something else up your sleeve?

NS: I’ve been on the road touring and will be home in Charlotte, NC next for the next date in mid-November. I’ve recently performed in St. Louis, Chicago and Milwaukee on the current tour.

MW: Thanks again for taking the time!


NS: Thank You!

Monday, October 24, 2016

JJ McGuigan "Dissociative"



Artist JJ McGuigan has a new EP available titled “Dissociative.” I was able to listen and really loved the track “Desperate Eyes” (number 5 in the lineup). The ambient intro is stirring – when the voice comes in, it’s breathy, almost like a hazy dream in which the person is drifting in and out of sleep. The guitar comes in strumming one note at a time which creates a distant and rhythmic feel. This music feels very at home with bands like “Love Life,” it has a slow but somewhat punkish feel to it which comes together very nicely. Another aspect to this song’s credit is the fact that I love the attitude of the drums; it sounds like sampled machine guns that the vocals just float over.  The entire EP is more than worth a listen and I’m happy about being able to recommend it. For more information, please visit jjmcguiganmusic.com

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Michael C. Keller "Sunlight and Moonlight"

Sunlight and Moonlight

I think most readers know that I’m a weekend church music director – so when I received a copy of Michael C. Keller’s album titled “Originals and Gospel Standards” I became intrigued. One of the more stand-out tracks was Keller’s song “Sunlight and Moonlight,” a romantic ballad sung over lilted synthetic instrumentation. Keller’s voice is extremely distinct with a mild folky quality and rich in its imperfection – the song is melodically and rhythmically strong, plus its sentiment is really sweet. The accompaniment is a little faint for my taste, but that could just be a genre discrepancy. The song is available on Amazon for download. 

Monday, September 26, 2016

Cranky George: Nighttime

Cranky George

Los Angeles indie-rock band Cranky George has released a new single titled “Nighttime.” From the opening guitar line, I was reminded of early REM and wafting memories of college-dorm windows open blasting the cerebrally driven sounds. Fans of The Smiths will also appreciate this tune. There are wonderfully mid-range male vocals sung passionately, plus, even a few Italian lyrics in there. The song is upbeat but fantastically slow-dance-oriented, dramatic, and mildly psychedelic. It would be good to take in a show of these guys, should you find yourself in the LA area; I imagine this sound would come off fantastically live. To learn more about Cranky George, please visit their FaceBook page here

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Throwaways: “Vigils & Vignettes"

Throwaways (a wonderful group of whom I’ve just been informed) note themselves on their website as “…an electronic-infused rock/pop trio based out of Jackson, MS.” A seemingly apt description for anyone who hears their music. Made up of Dusty Goff, Michael Perry, and Robert Hansford; the band is out with a new EP titled “Vigils & Vignettes.”


The album begins with one of the toughest bass-parts I think I’ve heard since Cliff Burton’s “Anesthesia (Pulling Teeth).” It doesn’t last long, though, the bass catapults the track, titled “Sky,”  into an orchestral-in-your-face wall of sound (very pleasant) and finally some very smooth male vocals. Throwaways gets major points from me for their use of electronic pads and drones in this number.

The next song “Hope + Fear” is much more akin to an 80’s synth-pop track with a sawtooth lead taking the reins; it’s balanced, though, with distorted guitar. This one is upbeat with a driving drum part augmented by arpeggios until it lands on the chorus, which, if it were any more anthem-like, would be mandated by law to be used as soundtrack material in every film’s slow motion scene (I mean that as a compliment, BTW, anthems are tough to write!)  

Track number three is back with the pads (again, big fan!) but this song has an almost religious quality to it in the way the reverbed synths are the accompaniment for solemn vocals. Of course, the lyrics also hint towards something higher “oh, you take the best of me, now take the rest of me… and I’ll die.” Many of you might be thinking of the Seymour Simons and Gerald Marks song “All of Me” popularized by Frank Sinatra – if it is a nod, it’s a subtle one. This song is climactic in a way that is just stunning. Listen to it on great speakers, not crappy laptops.

The EP rounds out with “Your Eyes,” an optimistic and fast song that has an overt sensual character, although, that impression could just be the utter smooth-ness of the vocals. In many ways, it reminds me quite a lot of the other “Your Eyes” by one Peter Gabriel made famous by John Cusack in the film Say Anything. If only someone will hold up a boombox I think we could get that scene together for 2016!


“Vigils & Vignettes” is pure proof of quality over quantity. It’s a lean four tracks, but there aren’t any throwaways (no pun intended) on this album. What the band has given us is a beautiful set of songs that we can enjoy beginning to end. It will be nice; however, to see what these guys release in the future and if they can pull off a full album with the same attention to perfection. In the meantime, make sure to grab yourself a copy of this one.